David Cutcliffe Has Transformed Duke University's Football Program from Perennial Loser to Growing Threat

By Christopher Gamble
Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports


The Duke Blue Devils are bowl eligible for the second straight year, the first time Duke has been eligible for a bowl in back-to-back seasons in school history. Granted, the history of Duke football hasn’t exactly been stellar but that is all about to change, a change that has been in the works since Duke hired David Cutcliffe to replace Ted Roof following the 2007 season.

He began his collegiate coaching career with Tennessee in 1982 and performed various roles with the team including coaching Peyton Manning. Cutcliffe came to Duke after cutting his teeth as a head coach with Ole Miss from 1999 to 2004 and compiled a 4-1 record in bowl games and recruited Eli Manning. After being fired from Ole Miss, Cutcliffe spent one year with Notre Dame as an assistant head coach and quarterback coach before returning to Tennessee as the offensive coordinator from 2006-07.

Although he has yet to record a winning season with the Blue Devils, Cutcliffe has changed the culture surrounding the Duke football program and, at 6-2, is currently on pace to bring home Duke’s first winning record since Fred Goldsmith led Duke to an 8-4 record in 1994.

Last season, despite a 6-6 regular season record, Duke made it to the Belk Bowl, the first bowl appearance for the program since 1994, where they lost to Cincinnati. However, Cutcliffe was named the ACC Coach of the Year, a well-deserved honor as Duke set a school single-season record with 410 points.

Cutcliffe has compiled a 27-42 record in his six seasons as head coach. In the 11 seasons prior to Cutcliffe’s arrival, Duke had managed to win just 10 games total during that span. Now, thanks to last week’s 13-10 victory over a Virginia Tech team that was ranked 14th in the nation, the country is finally starting to realize Duke might no longer just be a basketball school.

There is no doubt that Cutcliffe has turned around the program and the future looks bright in Durham for the first time in decades.


Chris is a Senior Writer as well as the Hiring and Recruiting Manager for Rant sports. Follow Chris on Twitter and “Like” his page on Facebook.

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